36 Insomnia Facts: Scary Truths About The #1 Sleep Disorder

As humans we spend one-third of our lives sleeping, unfortunately it’s a lot less than that for insomniacs! Learn the most eye-opening facts about this common condition.

Insomnia Facts

General Insomnia Facts

Before we get into the shocking and interesting facts, we need to establish just how common the condition is!

Take a look below at 11 insomnia facts that might surprise you:

1. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, much more common than night terrors or sleep walking.

2. Nearly half of the US population experience insomnia symptoms at some time.

3. 10% of those impacted by insomnia go on to develop chronic insomnia.

4. 237 million people globally struggle with insomnia.

5. Women are nearly twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men.

  • The reason women are thought to suffer from insomnia more than men are mood changes, hormones and the responsibilities brought on by children and family.
  • Insomnia disorder is a particular problem for women while pregnant and also during the menopausal years.[1]

6. In the USA, an estimated $63 billion is lost in work performance due to insomnia each year.

7. Individuals with acute insomnia exhibit more stress, poorer mood and worse sleep continuity.

Insomnia really can have a huge impact on your mood, with studies showing that people with insomnia are five times more likely to develop depression.[2]

Depression can also trigger insomnia, with 90% of depressed people reporting incidents of insomnia.[3]

8. Adults over 65 are the most likely to suffer from insomnia.

9. More than one in four children report issues initiating and maintaining sleep.

10. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been proven to be an effective treatment for insomnia.

11. Insomnia during pregnancy affects approximately 78% of women.

Interesting Facts about Insomnia

There is so much to learn about insomnia, so you can better understand causes and triggers.

Read on to discover insightful and interesting facts about the condition:

1. The term “insomnia” first appeared in the dictionary in 1623 and was given the meaning “want of sleep”.

2. People who work night shifts are at a higher risk of suffering from insomnia.

3. Insomniacs are more likely to suffer from hallucinations

4. People with insomnia are 20 times more likely to develop a panic disorder.

Did you know?

Insomnia can be fatal. Fatal familial insomnia is a very rare genetic disease that stops a person falling to sleep, eventually leading to death.[4]

6. Yoga has been shown to help with the effects of insomnia.

In fact, there are a number of key poses that are more sleep-inducing than others!

7. There is currently no evidence that sleeping pills can cure insomnia.

8. 35% of insomniacs have a family history of the condition.

Scientists have in fact identified seven different insomnia genes!

9. Changes in your sleep pattern on a weekend compared to a weekday, referred to as “social jet lag”, can lead to insomnia.

10. Heavy chronic smoking increases the likelihood of insomnia in older adults.

Myth:

“Only stress causes insomnia.”

Stress is one factor that can cause insomnia but there are also many others such as genetics, smoking, alcohol and hormones.

11. Insomnia is one of the major contributing factors to deaths in car accidents.

12. Frequent binge drinking causes insomnia symptoms in older adults.

13. Smartphone use disrupts melatonin production, the natural hormone that helps control our sleep cycle.

14. During the Covid-19 pandemic, high rates of clinically significant insomnia were recorded.

Experts began to refer to the rise as “coronasomnia”.

Data also revealed that the word ‘insomnia’ was Googled more in 2020 than it had ever been before.[5]

15. Live in the American Southeast? Statistics show you live in the most sleep-deprived part of the country!

States along the Appalachian Mountains also have high levels of sleep deprivation.

If you want to get a good night’s sleep you need to move to Minnesota, South Dakota or Colorado![6]

Fun Facts about Insomnia

Of course there’s nothing fun about insomnia, but there are a number of interesting assumptions that have been made about the condition over the years.

Learn more by reading our 10 fun facts about insomnia:

1. Insomniacs should get out of bed if they can’t sleep.

Though it seems counterproductive to get out of bed when you’re trying to sleep, sleep experts explain it’s better than lying in bed and trying to force yourself to sleep!

2. People with insomnia should avoid daytime naps.

3. Historically those suffering from insomnia were perceived as morally suspect. The Devil himself was seen as an insomniac.

Did you know?

The ancient tale of Gilgamesh from 2700 BCE is the story of an insomniac who can’t sleep while mourning the loss of an intimate friend. Luckily it’s solved with reverse psychology, as the leader of the underworld instructs him to stay awake for seven more nights to gain immortality. He fails.[7]

4. Vincent Van Gogh was an insomniac.

5. In Shakespeare’s plays, insomnia is often a condition that befalls an unsettled mind.

6. Dogs can suffer from insomnia.

7. Even flies can be insomniacs! Washington University School of Medicine bred insomniac flies and found their behaviors resembled people with insomnia in many ways.

8. Counting sheep does not help you fall asleep at night.

  • Researchers from Oxford University carried out a study to see whether the age-old advice of counting sheep really helped you fall asleep.
  • According to their research it didn’t help, in fact imagining yourself on the beach worked much better.

9. Pop icon Madonna has been a lifelong insomniac.

10. 11 days is the longest someone has ever gone without sleep.

Still struggling to sleep? Why not take a look at our list of 23 things to help you sleep better tonight!

Or if you want to learn more about insomnia, we’ve gathered the latest statistics.

Laura Smith

Author

Laura Smith

Associate Editorial Manager

Specialist health & wellbeing writer, passionate about discovering new technologies & sharing the latest research.

References

  1. Conroy, D. (2016). 3 Reasons Women Are More Likely to Have Insomnia [Online]. Michigan Health. Available from: https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/health-management/3-reasons-women-are-more-likely-to-have-insomnia [Accessed 22 December 2022].
  2. Harvard Medical School (2008). Sleep and Mood [Online]. Available from: https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood [Accessed 22 December 2022].
  3. Pendersen, T. (2022). Is Insomnia a Mental Illness? [Online]. Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/insomnia/is-insomnia-a-mental-illness#comorbidities [Accessed 9 January 2023].
  4. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (2021). Fatal familial insomnia [Online]. Available from: https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6429/fatal-familial-insomnia [Accessed 22 December 2022].
  5. Lufkin, B. (2021). The 'coronasomnia' phenomenon keeping you from getting sleep [Online]. BBC. Available from: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210121-the-coronasomnia-phenomenon-keeping-us-from-getting-sleep [Accessed 22 December 2022].
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2022). Sleep and Sleep Disorders [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html [Accessed 22 December 2022].
  7. GradeSaver (2022). The Epic of Gilgamesh [Online]. Available from: https://www.gradesaver.com/the-epic-of-gilgamesh/study-guide/summary-tablet-xi [Accessed 22 December 2022].